Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, and this is the way I heard it, episode number one, 93, and it's called Who You're Going To Call, Who You're Going to call. The answer, of course, is everybody knows is Ghostbusters. But tragically, the Ghostbusters are no longer returning calls. So instead, why not spend an hour or so right here as Chuck and I pick up where we left off last week, discussing all things paranormal and supernatural, as well as all things perfectly normal and absolutely natural?
We begin with an homage to Melvin Levy, a little known private in the United States Armed Forces, a man whose name you might not know but who nevertheless took ghost busting, if you will, to a whole new level with a little assistance from a biscuit bomb. Yes, you heard right. A biscuit bomb will learn all about those things momentarily.
Then, as promised, I'll tell you the true story of the real ghost I encountered at Georgia Farm way back in 1991 when I was selling strange things at QVC in the middle of the night and sleeping in an even stranger place in the middle of the day. Then I'll share a few more ghost stories with my old pal Chuck, along with some unplanned ruminations on UFOs, time travel, crop circles and why it is people insist on believing weird things. It's episode number 193, who you're going to call, and it all starts right now.
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Are you going to call Chapter 15 the biscuit bomb? Rodman looked constipated, the young private's expression was one of perpetual concentration, punctuated from time to time by a crooked smile that sometimes appeared apropos of nothing.
His best friend, on the other hand, Private Levy, he was the undisputed life of the platoon in the barracks and on the battlefield, too, he'd proven to be a consummate storyteller. In a matter of minutes, private levy stories could transport his fellow soldiers out of whatever fresh hell they'd found themselves in.
Indeed, his love of a good story would impact not only the lives of his fellow soldiers, it would transform the careers of Dennis Hopper, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Lee Marvin, William Shatner, Peter Falk, Elizabeth Montgomery, Jack Klugman, Carol Burnett. The list goes on. In fact, you could argue that The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and many other classic TV shows would never have come to be if not for the extraordinary contribution this 19 year old private made during the Second World War.
But of the many stories that Private Levy would tell, the one that had the most impact unfolded beneath the palm tree on the bloody beach of a tiny island that most Americans couldn't have found on a map. Rodman was there on that day, December 18th, 1944, along with the rest of the platoon, and they were all hanging on Melvin Levy's every word. The boys of the five 11th Parachute Infantry Regiment had spent a week fighting their way through the jungle, crawling through mud, slithering under barbed wire and dying in record numbers.
They've lost 50 percent of their original compliment. Yet in the midst of the madness and mayhem, there stood private levee holding court under a palm tree and tropical heat, weaving his spell and getting laughs in a country where laughter was no longer among the indigenous sounds. Rodman stood off to the side, smiling, his crooked smile, looking vaguely constipated and marveling at his friends way with the story at that very moment high over their heads and maybe a quarter mile to the south, a Bombadier opened the doors of his DC three.
The payload left the plane cleanly and began to accelerate with the velocity one might associate with a 4200 pound crate of K rations, dry sausages, chocolate bars and hard biscuits.
The boys called those crates biscuit bombs and with no supply lines to rely upon, they waited with great anticipation for those lifesavers to float down from the skies. Down at ground level, the men of the five 11th were spellbound, Private Levy was working up to the climax of his tale. All of his stories had surprising twists and the men had no idea where this one was headed. For a few brief moments, the exhausted soldiers forgot all about the enemy that surrounded them as well as their gnawing hunger.
They had lost themselves in private levees, unpredictable narrative. Meanwhile, 400 feet above the beach, the parachute on one of the biscuit bombs failed to deploy 100 feet. After that, two tons of airborne grub reached terminal velocity. Private Levy had just arrived at his surprising, hysterical punch line, the men had dissolved in fits of laughter and broken into applause. Private Levy took a few steps toward Rodman to bum a cigarette. Rodman handed him the one he'd just lit and fished another out of his fatigues.
Twenty feet over their heads, the biscuit bomb was moving at roughly 200 miles an hour, a split second later it landed directly on private levee and that was that the soldier was pulverized by the care package that had been meant to save his life. That man, Private Levy, transformed television, but not by forming a legendary studio, starting a talent agency or pioneering a technical breakthrough. Now, all he did was die a few feet in front of his best friend and the most ironic manner you could imagine.
That evening, Rodman, the only other Jewish kid in the platoon, wrote a eulogy for Private Levy the next morning, he read that eulogy to the rest of the platoon and a crisp, well modulated baritone. His words, carefully measured and delivered with great deliberation, articulated the underlying dread of living in a world beyond his understanding, a world where certainty was not for sale, a world where a giant box of biscuits could plummet out of the heavens and pulverize your best friend.
War changes people, and Rodman was forever changed by the unlikely demise of Private Melvin Levi, he retained his crooked smile, his stilted delivery and his vague look of chronic constipation. But from that moment on, the die was cast. Private levees, surreal, gruesome passing had opened a door through which Rodman willingly walked the door to another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. For that was the moment that a young private named Rodman, Edward Serling, first entered the Twilight Zone.
You want to hear a ghost story? I don't blame you as the narrator of cultural touchstones like Ghost Lab and ghost hunters, I'm partial to them myself. But the only ghost story I know to be true is the one I experienced firsthand at Georgia Farm. On my very first night in the mansion, I sat alone by a fire in the great room where the severed heads of various animals loomed all around me. I was reading a mystery when all of a sudden the player piano sprang into action.
The tune was Georgy Girl, a burst of sound that sent me rocketing out of the chair like a marionette yanked upward by some spastic puppeteer. I don't remember dropping my scotch on my way to the door. I just remember cleaning it up later, along with the shattered glass while the player piano continued to roll on its own. That first night set the tone for the year that followed life at Georgia Farm was shot through with a strange feeling that shadowed my every move in the enormous home, which was not my own home, a fully furnished mansion with back stairways that led to hidden rooms and grand fireplaces big enough to stand in a home built in 1740 and filled with the possessions of the last man who died there.
A smoking jacket, velvet, a humidor, fully stocked, a gun rack with shotguns and rifles, antique, a liquor cabinet also fully stocked, as well as that player piano with a mind of its own. That strange feeling was magnified by the strangeness of my new job, the graveyard shift at QVC had turned my days and nights upside down, leaving me in a permanent state of semi consciousness. I leave for work at 1:00 in the morning, pausing on the way out to consider my reflection in an enormous mirror, then hung in the vestibule suit and tie, freshly shaven that I look like a man who'd been singing opera for a living one month earlier, that I look like a man about to discuss the timeless appeal of collectible dolls and fake diamonds.
I didn't know, but I was starting to see my late night interactions with narcoleptics, shopaholics and a whole new light.
There were so many people out there eager to connect with a kindred spirit, even if that connection was going to cost them just three easy payments of 1999. Georgia Farm was just eight miles away from QVC studio in Westchester, but the first few miles were country lanes that made coming home from work a journey away from civilization. The driveway that led up to the main house was a mile long, at least a gravel road that took its time winding up and around the old barn went over a series of cattle guards and ended at the top of the hill where the house set.
It had an enormous porch with white pillars, a wide sloping lawn that led down to a stone retaining wall, and beyond that, a lake stocked with perch and trout. Most mornings I'd come home from work and sit on the porch sipping a dead man's scotch, I'd watch the sunrise and go over the most meaningful interactions I'd had that day, conversations with disembodied voices who'd called in to talk to me while I was on the air. It was a lonely time, unsettled and unsettling, sometimes on the weekends, I'd have co-workers over.
I encourage them to bring friends and word must have gotten around. One Saturday in early September, 200 people came by for an impromptu lawn party. Joe, the bartender, brought bushels of oysters and a couple of kegs, which he tapped on the veranda. I must have been an odd sight dressed as I was and Mr. Stroud's smoking jacket sitting on the porch with an antique shotgun across my lap. No one seemed to know who I was. And as a man hired for his discretion, I couldn't really answer their questions.
I let my guests assume what they wanted, knowing that whoever they thought I might be wasn't me. Sometime after midnight, the player piano started in on an old song I'd learned from Fred King. People who pass me in pairs act like the sidewalks are theirs. Old friends seem to be total strangers to me from so alone in the crowd. That's how I felt at the end of that party alone in the crowd, then Winter came to Georgia Farm and I was alone for real.
Before long, a blizzard dumped two feet of snow over Pennsylvania horse country. I was unable to get to the studio or anywhere else for the better part of a week. I lost phone service, but a generator in the barn kept the power on, for which I was most grateful. Without electricity, I would have lost my mind. Although if you saw the videos I made during that period, you might assume I had lost it already.
One evening, I set a camcorder on a tripod, train the lens on the player piano and hit record the fireplace crackled in the background as I entered the frame, walking confidently dressed in one of Mr Stroud's many tuxedos, which fit surprisingly well, nodding to my imaginary audience. I took a seat behind the ivories and flipped the switch under the keyboard. The tune was Mr. Bojangles, and as the keys began to move up and down on their own, I pretended to push them, pantomiming with all the verisimilitude I could muster.
When the roll ended, I rose, bowed and exited the frame that night, I watched the footage and evaluated my performance. Did this handsome pianist look at all like Glenn Gould? Why, yes, I thought yes, he did.
In the morning, I took a revolver down to the lake carefully, I set the camera in the crook of a tree, pointed it over the frozen surface and hit record. The woods in the distance were dark and deep. But on this day, I had no promises to keep, only time to kill. That night, I watched the footage and evaluated my performance, who was this dangerous drifter dressed in a cowboy hat and syrupy this ominous ombre who wheeled around, drew his revolver with lightning speed and took six imaginary enemies down in the blink of an eye.
Did this gunslinger resemble Clint Eastwood? Why, yes, I thought yes, he did.
With a few more days of stubble, there'd be no difference at all. The months went by, spring came, and then summer and fall, I never did see the ghost of Morris Stroud, the player piano turned out not to have a mind of its own. Only a timer that sometimes malfunctioned creaks and rattles I'd hear in the night. All turned out to be just creaks and rattles. But again, Georgia Farm was haunted, haunted by the man who stood in the vestibule every morning at one a.m. staring into that enormous mirror, thinking about who he was and what was happening to him, a friendly ghost, to be sure, but a ghost all the same, a kindly spirit who still looked a little like me.
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So, Mike, you were the ghost at Georgia Farm all along? Yes, Charles, of course I was the ghost. You've always been the caretaker, Mr. Torrance.
Just a little trouble with the old ball and chain. Yes, yes.
Call back to The Shining for those of you who that's one of those movies, by the way. We talked about this weeks ago. But, you know, there's a list and it's not necessarily the greatest movies ever made, but there's a list of movies that if it's on and I stumble across it, I got to watch it to the end. And God help me. The Shining is on that list.
Oh, it's so, so, so creepy.
Do you remember you and I were working for United Artists at the same time back in the early, early 80s when this movie came out?
I used to be able to recite the entire scene where he backs her up the stairs when she's holding the baseball bat.
You know, when they when a I forget it now, but I used to do the whole thing all the way. Not going to hurt you, sweetheart. I'm just going to bash your brains in. Right. Yeah. Yeah.
What a movie. And first of all, a big thanks to everybody on Facebook who took me up on my spontaneous offer to share a ghost story. Hundreds have appeared and some of them were really terrific. But all of them together make the point that we were talking about last week, Chuck, which was simply that everybody has one. Yeah, everybody's got a moment, a recollection, even if it's second hand. But I'm talking first hand it I don't know anybody, even skeptics who can't find something in their life that they just shrug and go, oh, man, I don't know.
I just I just can't explain it, you know? Yep. Yep, yeah. Do you want to read this one? Yeah.
Hang on. I'm looking for it now. This one actually you sent it to me.
Who wrote this one. You remember.
I should have put that on there. Let me let me see if I can find it. Yeah. Cindy ACoNs. All right.
Yeah. So this is just a real short one, but this is one of one of hundreds. And I and I think this is a good one to read because it's very similar to a lot of what I've heard from people over the years and a lot of what you guys shared collectively. It goes like this. I used to work in a nursing home. We had a sweet lady named June who lived in the room right across the hall from the time clock.
Every day I would clock in and see Jun sitting at the door. We'd smile and we'd say our good mornings. One morning I clocked in, said hello to June and asked if I'd missed any excitement since I'd left. She smiles and waves her hand at me in a shooing motion. I laugh and say something about Oh yeah, good gossip, huh? I walk to my department and my coworkers meet me at the door and tell me how sorry they are that I didn't get to say goodbye to June.
She had passed early that morning. I stood there without talking, which is not my personality. I sat my stuff down and I walked back to her room and sure enough, it was empty.
You read that you really put a lot into that. So you know what? That I appreciate you taking the time to share the stuff.
I mean, I, I, I know what it takes to, you know, to carry those things around and then write them down and then talk about it later. And it's it's very much of a part of the way I heard it in terms of, you know, the way we keep stories with us and the way they grow in the telling, in the way they get larger and larger in our in our memory. And I think I think well, that's true of all stories.
It's just doubly true of ghost stories.
Yeah, I think you're entirely right. And what I liked about the way you read it is that it felt just like an episode of the podcast, you know, I mean, you you you you hit us with the drama at the end.
It was delightful. Well, you know, I read Tell-Tale Heart a couple of years ago for Halloween. Yes, you did. Right. Of course, it's in the library here. And there's something about a ghost story that demands a different kind of read even when you're reading it to yourself.
I want to go back to Georgia Farms, though, because I want to ask you, was there anything else that occurred at your time at Georgia Farms that you can't explain away?
Yeah, actually, there was one thing there were there were a number of things that I couldn't readily explain away. And of course, there was this whole overarching petina of weirdness that never really went away. It dissipated dramatically over the first couple of days. I mean, there's no way I could have stayed there with the level of anxiety that I felt that Halloween it. Oh, right. Right. It drained out the next day when I gave myself a tour in the daylight and it drained away further when the electrician came out and got all the lights working, you know, but there was there were two things that happened that are each worth a quick share.
One would have killed me had it happened that first night. And this was an inexplicable thing.
It had happened by the fireplace a couple of nights later, maybe a week after I had moved in and I was sitting there next to a fire sipping a scotch and the player piano went off. Yeah, it just went off. Now, in the story, I mentioned that it played Georgy Girl, but it went off a lot and it always played something different. There were 30 or 40 songs on the roll. And what I learned later, of course, was that the electrical surges that happened from time to time in that part of Pennsylvania, the electricity was kind of spotty out of Georgia farm.
And when it came back on, it would trip the timer in the player piano and the thing would just start playing. Now, I had no way of knowing that you didn't tell me about it. But I'll tell you something, man, that first I was sitting there and it went off. I think the song was I think it was like, do you know the way to San Jose?
Apropos of nothing, but you're just sitting there completely alone in that old house and all of a sudden L.A. is a great big three hundred down and buy and man, I came out of that chair like a Jack in the Box was bringing it that it was, oh, my gosh.
You know, very quickly, that reminds me, I remember where that piano player was and or a piano player piano, not a piano player. You didn't have some guy is sitting there. Yeah.
Or did I.
Oh, well, well, when a Joe Schepers and I came to visit you, we, we drank some I think it was bourbon that we drank sitting around that fireplace at night. We were laughing and joking in these chairs and then, you know, it's very dark.
There's a big fire. And then the next thing I mean, I just remember laughing and then the next thing I remember is hearing my eyes are closed and I hear.
Like this growling and I opened my eyes and it's dark, it's like it happened like that, where all of a sudden it's pitch black, the fire's gone out except for a few tiny embers. And I just hear.
Now, for context, I had just given you guys the tour that I did last week, we sat around, we had a drink, I went to bed, you guys kept talking and passed out and you woke up in the dark. Fire's gone, hearing a snarling, wolfing, terrible kind of sound.
Yes. And so I am just I am I have my eyes open, but not so wide as to let this animal know that I am awake. I'm trying to remain kind of asleep and looking through the slits in my eyes and just kind of looking around and from the direction I look over and just barely I can make out.
Joe is lying back with his jaw on his chest.
Just sign wood snoring and snore.
Oh, my gosh. And I and I just I was like, OK, well, that's that's solved. Like, now how do I get the bed? And it's pitch black. I know where any of the light switches are. And I wound up just sitting there all night long listening to him snore because I didn't want to try and walk through that house in the dark by myself.
And this is the thing. Nine out of ten stories, nine out of ten things, maybe ninety nine out of 100 that feel truly inexplicable are in fact readily explicable. It's it's Occam's razor. The simplest explanation is almost always the right explanation. Right. Is there a Beowulf is there a werewolf in the house reading on you or is your friend snoring? You know, it's it's simple to the point of silly when you frame it that way. However, that moment when you were awakened and you were completely just wrapped in uncertainty, you know, that's the moment that you carry with you for the rest of your life or you don't depending on whether or not you're able to explain what it was.
Look, the other thing that happened to me in that house that I cannot explain was a lot less spectacular, but. I'd put it up there with the top three chilling things that have ever happened simply because I haven't been able to square it and I woke up one morning in my bed upstairs in the house, and I know I was awake. It wasn't a dream thing because I picked up a book and started reading. I had been awake for at least a half hour.
I had made coffee and I was back in the bed reading and I'd put the book down in between chapters. And I was just lying there for a moment in the quietude, you know, out there in the country. When it when it's quiet, it's quiet. Mm hmm. And in that relative silence, I heard a man's voice very clearly and very distinctly say, David, just like that tenor and tone are seared into the audio part of my brain.
David, it felt like it was definitely in the room and it felt like it was coming from the foot of the bed that present in a room with wooden floors and bare walls. So there was even a little bit of, you know, David, like, oh, yes, yes, there was a bit of an echo.
And that was the most chilling thing, the fact that it it was just so real. Now, what does it mean? Obviously, it's it's a man's name. There's I'm not David and there's no one in my life that's David. So I immediately call Kipe to see if, you know, she had a brother or a son or a friend. Is there anybody there named David? Was there any tie to her dad? Her dad's name was Morris.
You know who he was? The guy who was purportedly haunting the thing. I couldn't find any link to David whatsoever. And to this day, I have no explanation for it. I heard it. I heard it crystal clear. But to the earlier point, did I really what's the simplest explanation? Maybe imagined it? Look, maybe there was a character in the book named David. Maybe there was an exchange in an earlier chapter that I don't consciously recall where somebody said something to somebody named it.
I just don't know. I don't know. But given those two things, was and was it an audio hallucination or the actual embodiment of a spoken word by an invisible entity? There's there's no way to know, there's no way to know, but you must choose. You must choose in order to get on with your life. Well, actually, you don't have to. You can go around open to the possibility. But personally, no, I choose to.
I choose to believe that was an audio hallucination, even though I can also look at you during this phone call and say with a straight face, dammit, I heard it, David. I still hear it. I have a very similar story about Ricos cabin in Running Springs, which is near right off of big near Big Bear, where he used to have a cabin.
It was a big house. It was a big house on five acres with a guest house above a seven car garage, Ricos Island.
Tony, by the way, an actor, I think a lot of people probably know that guy's working steady for, what, 30 years now? Oh, yeah.
At least he was Elliot on Just Shoot Me. He was the lead alien in Galaxy Quest, which maybe his finest.
Yeah, I love it. Yeah.
He was just most recently he was in the Mr. Rogers movie. He played Mister Rogers manager or agent or something. I dealt with Matthew.
Know what, he was good and made a scary movie called Stigma's Stigmata. Yeah. He played a priest, an Italian priest, of course, but he's not going to play an Irish one.
So anyway, our friend Ricos, an Italian actor, very accomplished. And he had this place in Big Bear. And you went up there a lot.
Yes. And the very first time that I went up there to look at the place when he was looking to buy a place and we walked in this place, I'm like, dude, this is awesome with this. It was great. And I got zero vibe, believe me, all of the places up there, because it's it's it was Indian land.
You know, there were a lot of you know, the old ancient Indian burial ground thing was a was a meme that was all over the town of Big Bear, Bluejay, Running Springs all up in there. And this this particular house zero vibe.
A lot of other people had a cabin in Bluejay, had big vibe, didn't like there was one room. I just didn't like to go in. And but the first night it was a bunch a group of guys went up there.
It was for the Super Bowl and there were still no furniture. There was just a big screen TV and zero furniture. We all brought, you know, sleeping bags and we just camped out. I slept in one of his kids rooms that night. And so I'm in there with my dog Chubbie, and we're lying on the floor and I'm just basically have just settled in to go to sleep. Chubbie settles, I settle. It's quiet for a moment and it's clear as a bell, just like you heard your David, I heard a woman's voice say your brother is dead.
And I know. And it was it was like like you said, it was in the room. So much so that I immediately sat up and spun around and spun my arms around, like thinking I'm going to hit someone. There's going to be some woman who's somehow in this room right now. And of course, there was nobody there at the time. My brother Rick was in Thailand and I had no way to get in touch with him. So it totally freaked me out.
And now the most logical explanation, of course, is that I just imagined that I drifted off a little bit too far.
And I and I just imagined it, however, that everybody else who stayed up there alone in particular, reported hearing a woman's voice multiple times outside of the house, a lot of times sometimes wailing, weeping, like in in a in a terrible way. You know, there are two other things that were really kind of crazy. One, that I was there, but it really happened to me. I was with Katrina at the time and Katrina was my girlfriend.
She was over in the the the guest house. I was in the foyer of the main house and Rico and his family had already left. We were and we were just locking up. We stayed a little longer. And so I'm talking to my sister on the phone. And Katrina walks up the stairs and sees me in the foyer and just stops in her tracks and looks at me and I'm like, hang on a second, tear. And I go, Are is everything all right?
She's like, were you just up on Ricos balcony? You know, there's a balcony that's pretty far away from where I was. And I said, No, why? She goes, You, you you waved at me. I'm like, what? She's like, I'm walking over. And this they're French doors there. She said one of the French doors opened up one of the screen doors of the French door, and she saw me standing on the other side of the glass waving at her.
And I go, How did you did it look like me?
And she goes, Well, I know you're the only one here, so it just had to be you. And I said, well, what did you do?
She like I waved back, but she was really shook up about it.
You know, you had really seen it. But the the the other thing that happened that was ridiculous was I was afraid to I was afraid to sleep there by myself.
And one time I was up there with Rico and his two kids. And we watched a movie downstairs, I didn't want to sleep in the guest house, I didn't want to be that far away from everybody else. So the four of us watch a movie, they go to bed. And I just said, I'm going to sleep here on the couch. You had to like nine foot leather sofas, very comfortable. So I'm going to sleep here. So it's like three o'clock in the morning.
I hear the tinkling of silverware.
You know, if you open up a drawer, a silverware drawer, you know how the silverware makes a noise. And if you like, grab a knife, that sound that you grab a fork or a knife and you hear the silverware sort of hitting each other. I'm hearing that. And I can see a bit of the kitchen from where I am.
There's an archway there. And I and I was absolutely convinced that someone was in the kitchen rummaging through the drawers.
And I sat quietly. I heard footsteps like clomping footsteps, not nothing subtle. And I heard the tinkling of the stuff. And I was like, oh, my gosh. And again, I'm doing the thing where I'm looking through the slits of my eyes because I don't want this person to know that I that I'm aware that they're there. And it goes on for I don't know how long, but it seemed like too long. And I kept staring through the archway and I never saw anybody walk by.
And I thought, wait a minute, am I just imagining hearing this thing or is this a ghost or what? No voices, no nothing.
Footsteps and the tinkling of drawers, you know, silverware. So eventually I drift off back to sleep, but I don't sleep very well.
And so the next night it's ricos like getting ready to go to bed. I go and I told him the story is like, oh, that's crazy. And I said like, oh really? You got to go to bed now. You want to watch another movie. Just let's see, let's hang out a little bit more is like Charlie, you know, it's late. I don't think I go, OK, he's like, you don't want me to go to bed?
I go, No, I really don't. And he goes, Well, how about if I sleep on the other couch down here? I'm like, would you pal? That would be great. And so he does. I slept like a baby. Three o'clock in the morning, Rico wakes up and hears footsteps and the tinkling in the kitchen. He heard exactly the same thing that I heard, but I didn't hear at that time because I like I knew that he was close by.
I slept like a baby. But it didn't wake you up. He did show up. He did not wake me up. Now, he did the exact same thing I did, which was to be very still, you know, because he thought the same thing I did. This is this is someone in the in the house.
Well, two thoughts. First of all, in that moment where you decide to lie still in that moment where you decide not to even open your eyes. Right. That's a pivotal moment. And I know what that moment feels like. And for me, I hadn't been asleep when I walked into that house and felt this overwhelming sense of, you know what, I'm not going to be able to sleep until I see every square inch of the thing. Right.
But later, had I been asleep and had I heard something, I might very well have lay there as well. Paralyzed. That's happened to me before. It's just a it's an interesting state that our body gets in depending on whether we're going to bed or coming out of slumber.
I think second thing, we have to talk about instances where they're witnesses because everything that happened to me, a Georgia farm, I was alone. Everything you just described, you were alone. Yes. Sleeping next to something.
Right. So it's it's all of this hearsay. It's it's all firsthand stuff. It's the stuff with witnesses that I think is the most interesting. This is a perfect segue way to the question I teased last week in wanting you to tell a certain story. You know the story. And it is when you're in the Boy Scouts and you guys go camping at Antietam where the Battle of Antietam took place.
Sure. I'll tell you, I'm not going to make a meal out of it. But I'll tell you what happened. And I want you to tell me, too, what happened at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. That was very simple thing. But there was another witness, OK, this was the first truly weird thing that happened to me that I had verifiable proof. Troop sixteen. I was probably 15 or 16 years old. It would have been September 17th.
I want to say nineteen seventy six or seventy seven. It was the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. And our scoutmaster was a real historian and committed to making sure the boys got a chance to go to Gettysburg and Antietam and really any major civil war battle ground within three or four states. We we visited there and whenever possible, we camped there and we camped that night.
It was a very cold night in September, weirdly cold. And we went through our normal routine, you know, we we made fires, we made dinner, we played capture the flag on the battle ground, which was a real trip. And looking back, probably vaguely inappropriate, if not exactly. We played Swing the thing, which is a game that's got to come back at some point. You know, you take an empty tent bag and you fill it with wet rags and then you get like a 10 foot rope and you get one guy who swings this thing around and around like maybe a foot off the ground.
And then you step in a whole circle of boys like 12 of us, and you have to jump over the tent bag. Wow. Right. And if you time it wrong, it hits you and it takes you down like a cheap card table. We played many violent games in the Boy Scouts back then. Anyhow, after capture the flag and swing the thing, we all broke off into pairs and we went to bed and I was in a tent with my old friend John Willard, and we had each fallen asleep and around somewhere between midnight and 1:00 a.m., we woke up.
And neither of us knew the other was awake. We were both lying there in that same state you just described. Not quite sure we wanted to open our eyes or awaken the other or even acknowledge what was happening. And what was happening were the sounds of gunshots, not just gunshots, but cannon fire, not just gunshots and cannon fire, but yelling and screaming and not the sounds of individuals yelling and screaming. The sounds of many individuals yelling and screaming, hundreds, if not thousands.
It was the sound of a crowd.
It was a roar. It was distant and yet weirdly close. And it was all punctuated with gunfire. It was a battle.
It was a full on battle raging and finally lying there, dumb and mute as I was, I nearly jumped out of my sleeping bag when John Willard said, do you hear that?
Right. He'd been lying there listening to this, too. And I'm like, yes, yes, I hear it.
And it didn't go away. Chuck, this was the crazy thing. It didn't it didn't stop. I mean, for the better part of an hour, we lay there listening to the sounds of battle ebbing and flowing from the near distance to the far distance. And I it was a long time ago, I can't tell you that we went back to sleep, I don't remember exactly what happened the next morning. I just remember that other people had heard it, too.
Mm hmm. And that, you know, it it just seemed so incontrovertibly real because I could now look at another homosapien and say, do you know what I'm talking about? And they would not their head, just like you're nodding now. And I knew. They knew and they knew that I knew. And so it was the power of that shared thing.
Now, look, we're ghosts reenacting the Battle of Antietam. I don't know what some crafty little scamp playing a recording of battle sounds somewhere on the on the on the grounds. Do they do that, you know, on the anniversary of the battle every year? I don't know. I simply don't know what the heck I was hearing, but I know for sure that I was hearing something and I know that I wasn't the only one.
Well, what's really interesting about that is, of course, this happened before I knew you, you know, but I do know John Willard and we all went to high school together. And I, independent of you, pull John Willard aside one time and said, hey, I got to ask you something. Mike told me this story.
And as I recounted it, he was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, that happened. I have no idea. It was really freaky. It stayed with him. I mean, he. Oh, yeah. It affected him. And I think John and I might see the world a little differently. I'm not sure. I haven't talked to him in a long time. But I'm as a skeptic, you know, I have fun with the stories.
I look at it. I'll tell you the truth of how I felt when it happened.
But in my mind, somebody faked it. That's the simplest explanation.
Well, here's the thing is, you're right. That is Occam's razor. That's the simplest explanation. But I have to tell you this, that years and years later, I had already moved to L.A. This is maybe 10, 12 years ago. I was listening to a radio program and the guest, it's talk radio and the guest on there was a guy who had written a couple of books about the exact phenomenon that you're talking about, which are American battlegrounds, where people experience paranormal activity.
And there are literally dozens, if not hundreds of people who went who who have been at places like Antietam, Gettysburg, you know, Vicksburg, all of the, you know, and even Revolutionary War battle battlefields where they hear the sounds, the inexplicable sounds of battle.
So so unless there are like a team of gnomes going around, pranksters, merry pranksters who are playing these things, you know, on on loudspeakers, it's a phenomenon that exists. And this is crazy. I mean, I remember when I when I when I heard this guy talking, I was like, oh, my gosh, this happened to Mike know?
So I look I mean, you you say merry pranksters jokingly and somewhat dismissively as if such a thing couldn't happen. But of course it does. I mean, remember the crop circles. Sure. Yeah.
Crop circles were a big deal. If you don't know that Google that, you know, these things started popping up. I think I think it began in Europe, you know, perfectly formed circles in in farm fields everywhere here. And I mean, it just was inexplicable until, of course, it was perfectly exploited and went after years of people. I mean, a lot of big brained scientists came in and conducted all kinds of research looking at the way the crops were pushing, the way they bent.
The the symmetry of it, they said, could only be caused by a very heavy object, slowly descending and landing in such a way. It didn't it didn't descend too fast.
It would have torn up the land and rotating in a certain direction as well.
Ever so gently, ever so gently.
It was either that or one guy in a piece of cardboard, which turns out it was it was a do dragging around like a plow with cardboard on it and some rocks on it just to smash everything down.
And I forget the guy's name, but he came and he said, yeah, I've been doing it now for a couple of years. I've really been having a go. It's been terrific, you know, and they're like, what do you show us? And of course, he showed everybody again and again over and over. But still, people didn't believe him. They were like, well, you couldn't have been in this place, in that place.
At the same time, as I told some friends I was doing it, I think some other people were probably doing it, too.
In fact, I know a couple for sure were like, no, no, no, no, no, no, we're not buying that.
Like, if you're predisposed, if you if your head is screwed on to believe these things as a reasonable person would as an open minded person would. Right. Then suddenly you're among thousands of people who think that guy's a crank, even though he demonstrated how he made them. Because you've bought it, you're all sure you're vested.
He made those, but he can't explain all of them. Sure, and why did he think to do that? Well, it's because a real one happened first.
Yeah, I forget his name, I think is I think the guy's name was Schirmer, a skeptic who wrote a book called Why People Believe Weird Things. I gave you this book years ago, and I think his name was Michael Shermer. I could be wrong.
But you know what I do? I remember you giving me this book. I'm I'm pretty sure I read it, but I can't remember. Well, that's another book. Why? Why Chuck can't remember. You know, why people believe weird things. And it just, you know, it's a rumination on the power of belief. And and once you get it into your head that UFOs are real, then you'll find what you look for. Right. That's the big if you're open to it and you're looking for it, your brain is going to find it.
Look at what's going on with UFOs today.
I was just going to ask you that, and I'd like to know what you think about it, because it looks like a lot of evidence and a lot of people in the military, you know, who are saying that, yeah, there's some stuff we can't explain. A swarm of what they call drones around a couple of Navy ships in twenty nineteen. What do you think about this?
Well, I think there's a whole category of stuff we can't explain. And I think that if you're open to the possibility of alien life, then you're going to be open to an explanation that relies on that. But, you know, I heard Elon Musk talking about this not long ago, and I loved what he said. He said, you know, if there is alien life out there, it's pretty subtle there. Yeah, they're not overacting. No, they're not.
And that's like, OK, there have been large groups of people who have witnessed something inexplicable. Sure. But we we just simply haven't seen the Independence Day ship appear in the sky. Right. They're not buzzing Times Square. They're not landing, you know, in downtown Los Angeles, it's always but an URL in some swamp down in Louisiana, we've got a story of abduction. It's it's there's a subtlety to the aliens if they exist that defies credulity, because if they didn't want to be seen at all, they wouldn't be seen.
They wouldn't be. Obviously, they've got that level of technology. And if they wanted to be seen, they would be seen in such a way that would leave us collectively nodding our heads and going, yeah, I saw it, too. I heard the sound like if if whatever said David wanted to be heard, he would have said it in a movie theater with 50 other people, you know, at such a time as when the movie was not airing.
Right. It it's just it defies credulity to think that all of these things happen in the privacy and the intimacy of our our own hopes and dreams.
Well, that's the thing that is different about the UFO stuff, is that so many people witness things and in fact, videotape things, you know, from different angles and whatnot. Occurrences that have happened in the sky. Now they're unidentified doesn't mean that they're alien forces.
And I think I've said this to you before, that the most likely the most likely thing is it's something that either our military or a foreign military has invented and is testing.
And there's there's some real estate in between that, too. That's interesting. So Occam's razor doesn't always have to be binary necessarily. You know, I think I know where you're going with this. OK, so there could be alien life and they could be visiting us in this weirdly subtle way that they're doing. That's that's a choice. Or it could be new levels of technology, to your point, that we're simply not privy to. Or it could be my friend, the colonel in the Air Force, had a fascinating conversation with me over a beer a couple of years ago.
I won't I won't use his name, but he's well respected. He's retired now. And he's he's been in the service his whole life. And I asked him the same basic question about UFOs and whatnot, and he said, to my surprise, Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, they're real. What do you mean they're they're real and he said, well, they're they're absolutely present and they are not a form of hidden technology. It's certainly nothing from our military.
And I don't believe personally that it's anything from any other country's military. And I said, well, then what is it? And he said, well, it's obviously it's it's us visiting us from the future. Obviously.
Obviously, obviously. Look, I'll get the next round. But I want to circle back on, you know, this word obvious. I'm not what you think it means, right? Don't feel Mandy Patinkin on him.
You keep using that word. Right. And he said, well, you tell me what's obvious then. The notion that some other civilization on some other planet is coming here and just simply can't decide to get out of its own schizophrenic way, views of the way they reveal themselves or the greatest homosapien mind in physics. One of them, anyway, Albert Einstein laid out a theory that makes it perfectly clear how this will happen at such a time as the technology presents itself and how many other theories have been laid out involving everything from parallel universes to multiverses and all kinds of other things, says, look, we we have a basis at least to have a conversation about time travel.
And if we are looking at things that we simply can't explain and we're open to any possibility, what's more plausible or simply visiting ourselves or the fact that somehow or another we're being visited by people who are so sophisticated that they can get here, but not sophisticated enough to remain hidden or motivated enough to be revealed.
OK, so somewhere between the two, there's that and lots of other variations on that theme. I suppose it's very, very freaky.
I think I think we should wrap this up a bit. But I do want to tell you, you asked about my experience at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Yes, please. This is one of those things that is entirely inexplicable to me. I don't know. I can't think of a logical explanation for what occurred. And by the way, banal, which is like the story, this is a boring story, but nevertheless an instructive one.
Yes. So it's like nineteen eighty four. I'm going to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. It's an old old building on Madison Avenue in New York City. It's been there for one hundred and some odd years and it has three theaters inside the the building. And I was in one of the theaters with my scene partner, a woman. You know, we're rehearsing together. We're on the stage. It's just the two of us and one chair. And it's a it's a type of specific type of chair.
It's square. It has it's got metal, a metal frame and a cushioned seat and a cushion back. And it's stackable. Sure. You've you've seen these kinds of chairs, right. So there's only one on the stage and it is positioned sort of behind her. Let's see, I'm audience left and she's audience right. And the chair is behind her, maybe two feet behind her. And we're looking at each other. And there's a moment where we both pause and just look at each other.
And in that moment where nothing is being said, I see behind her and to the left, the chair just move about six inches, just as if it were dragged, as if someone grabbed the top of it and just pulled it back six inches. It made a noise like, you know, of something being dragged across the floor, like what you would imagine. And I went, oh, my God. And she's like, What?
What what happened? I go, Did you you didn't see it. But, you know, and I'm pointing at the chair. I go, Did you hear that noise? And she said, Yeah, what was it? I go, it was that chair. And she goes, What do you mean? And I said, it just moved across the floor. And then I started looking around.
Then I was like, Who is here? What are they doing? I went over to the chair.
I picked up the chair. I looked to see if there was like some string attached to it. And I because that's the first thing I thought is that someone is trying to scare us. And they they had a string around it and they just moved it. But there was nothing on the chair. I saw it with my own eyes. She didn't see it, but she heard it just as good.
And that's the point. And it is a good story to end on because it's so simple. But there is no Ockham's Razor, at least not that I can think of. Right. I don't know. Wasn't an earthquake. You would have heard it. The whole the whole building didn't tell you. All with your own eyes, a very specific thing happen, right? If this were an episode of like Ghost Hunters right now, they'd cut this into the open and it was their Emmy nominated thing.
Yes, we actually have we've actually and we have witnesses and we have proof that we couldn't have faked it and so forth and so on. So that's that's a thing, right? I mean, had she not heard it, this would just be another weird story. And I would say it sounds like your eyes played a trick on you. Yeah. Sounds like your mind played a trick on you. You were in the middle of a scene. You were acting.
You were already in a heightened sense of accepting the unlikely, the implausible whatever you you were already pretending. I was already you were already lying, right?
Right. Mm hmm.
And yet she heard it, too. Well, if that's the case, then Occam's razor would say the most logical explanation is your lying.
Made the story up. Yes. Did you know?
No, I did not know.
And and so in the end, as so many other things, it's faith. A ghost story is a faith based initiative, you know. You need a certain amount of faith, actually, obviously, to put your your trust in a supernatural thing, but you also need a certain amount of faith to put your your trust in science, because you have to you have to believe the scientists are telling you the truth. You have to believe the research. Yes.
How much faith do we need today? When we turn on the news, we have to believe, you know, at some point somewhere you can only prove a thing so much and then you have to ask the listener to come along for the ride, you know, and it's a hell of a thing to ask us to come along for a ride. The, you know, six o'clock evening news, very different thing to tell to tell a story about.
That time I saw a chair move six inches. That's it, just a little bit really boring. You're right. It is a very good story. Hey, that's the greatest lie of all time, right?
It's six inches wet. So, hey, one thing that I wanted to ask you, because the you know, the beginning part of this chapter was the reveal was Rod Serling, you know, and who doesn't love The Twilight Zone? What's your favorite episode?
Well, it's a toss up, partly because I had a chance to work with William Shatner for a couple of years.
Oh, I want to say the one where, you know, he's on the plane as that crazy goblin eating the engine. Oh, yes. It's it's so crazy.
I mean, what what what Rod Serling did for the modern day ghost story is simply unparalleled because he didn't necessarily well, he didn't ever tell it to you in the classic way. This wasn't Lovecraft. This isn't Poe. Now, this is something else altogether. And and sometimes they were outrageous, you know, to be on a plane in a storm and you being the only one who can see the goblin eat the engine. I mean, what's more terrifying, the fact that a goblin is eating the engine or the fact that no one can see it.
But, you know, which brings us back to the point we're making. You either have a credible witness with you or you don't. And if you don't, then you are occupying some very, very, very frightening real estate because it's just you and you left to sort it out. I guess the other one that I love is with Burgess Meredith. That's in my top two. Yep. Yeah. He's the last man on Earth.
I guess all he ever wanted to do was read.
He works in a bank and he takes his lunch hour in the vault and he sits down and eats his lunch while he reads.
Now, while he's in there, there's a nuclear holocaust, which, of course, is something that we all feared in the in the 60s in America. And so when he emerges from the the vault an hour later, everything is gone, including the bank. Just the vault is there. And he's the only person who survived for him. It's kind of like a this is great, you know? And he goes to the library and it gets all the books and he stacks them up, all the books that he's going to read for the next 20 years.
He's got them all lined up and he sits down to do it and he accidentally sits on his glasses. Yeah.
And of course, his glasses are like, know coke bottle glasses. Yes. Thick. And this is before contact lenses. And now he's blind and alone, unable to do. I mean, your heart breaks because you think, oh, jeez, the guy can't read the only thing he loves to do. But then it's like, wait a second. You also can't see anything if he's alone. Yeah, utterly alone. And so that's not a ghost story.
That's so that's a horror story. But certainly. Yeah. In a way that made you just kind of chuckle anyway. He did that a lot, man. He he could he could sneak weird humor.
Yes. Some of the darkest moments and irony just I mean, because that's just ironic, you know, that he's got all the time in the world finally to read and now he can't read because he can't see.
Do you remember the one about how to serve your fellow man? That is my second favorite one. Yes.
We're we're out of time. But it's basically just a shaggy dog story, right? These people. Oh, we found a book From Aliens to really celebrate egalitarianism and decency and kindness in our species. It's called To Serve Man. Right. Except, of course, we learned in the last couple of seconds that the manual is really a cookbook. Cookbook.
All right. It's crap. Hey, guys, again, thank you for your ghost stories. It was really fun to read them. And if you want to go over to my Facebook page and peruse them, there are worse things to do with an hour of your time. You know what else you could do with just a few minutes of your time. If you're so inclined and you think this podcast is worth it, go read it over on.
What do you do that Chuck on Apple? Yeah, you could do it on the Apple iTunes. You can give us five stars if you like, and leave a review.
It helps. Don't I mean, don't rate it if you're not going to give us five stars. To be honest, it doesn't do me any good to get less than five stars. But we've learned because we've changed the format of the podcast, we've learned that the number of people we're reaching and the way Apple evaluates this, the ratings really do help. So if you have a comment, something nice to say and you've got five stars in you, we'd both be eternally grateful.
Also, if you're digging the book and would like to listen to it in one fell swoop, you can download the way I heard it wherever you download audio books or you can join us next week when the.
Free association will continue with Chapter 16 or whatever it is, and that'll be fun. I didn't scare you too badly with all this chatter, Chuck, did I? No, no, man.
I'm glad it's daytime, that's all. That's it. Because if it were nighttime, I'd be I'd be scared.
You'd be scared. All right, guys, have yourself a terrific week. And if all goes as planned, we'll be back here a week from now unless.
Were visited by some kind of entity, David. Did you hear that? You know what I just got I, I swear to God, I just got goose bumps and you said so that is why I don't have any friends named David.
OK, and so ends another episode of two dudes talking, I have one I have one friend named David, but that's it to you. Yeah. David M. Barsky, the Basken later. That's right. A story for another time. Goodbye and good luck.